Democracy Gone Astray

Democracy, being a human construct, needs to be thought of as directionality rather than an object. As such, to understand it requires not so much a description of existing structures and/or other related phenomena but a declaration of intentionality.
This blog aims at creating labeled lists of published infringements of such intentionality, of points in time where democracy strays from its intended directionality. In addition to outright infringements, this blog also collects important contemporary information and/or discussions that impact our socio-political landscape.

All the posts here were published in the electronic media – main-stream as well as fringe, and maintain links to the original texts.

[NOTE: Due to changes I haven't caught on time in the blogging software, all of the 'Original Article' links were nullified between September 11, 2012 and December 11, 2012. My apologies.]

Friday, August 22, 2014

Statement On The False Arrest Of Reporters Ryan Reilly And Wesley Lowery

We are relieved Ryan Reilly and Wesley Lowery are safe, but we are disturbed by their arrest and assault.

Ryan was working on his laptop in a McDonald's near the protests in Ferguson, Mo., when police barged in, armed with high-powered weapons, and began clearing the restaurant. Ryan photographed the intrusion, and police demanded his ID in response. Ryan, as is his right, declined to provide it. He proceeded to pack up his belongings, but was subsequently arrested for not packing up fast enough. Both Ryan and Wesley were assaulted.

Compared to some others who have come into contact with the police department, they came out relatively unscathed, but that in no way excuses the false arrest or the militant aggression toward these journalists. Ryan, who has reported multiple times from Guantanamo Bay, said that the police resembled soldiers more than officers, and treated those inside the McDonald's as "enemy combatants." Police militarization has been among the most consequential and unnoticed developments of our time, and it is now beginning to affect press freedom.

Original Article
Author: Ryan Grim

Ferguson Protests Met With Heavy Police Response, 2 Reporters And Alderman Arrested

Police violence broke out again in Ferguson, Missouri, Wednesday night, as the streets filled with tear gas, rubber bullets, heavily-armed SWAT teams and mine-resistant vehicles on the fourth night of unrest since Michael Brown, an unarmed African American teenager, was shot to death by police on Aug. 9.

Mostly peaceful protesters in the St. Louis suburb, symbolically holding their hands in the air, were met with tear gas and smoke bombs fired so regularly that several reporters on scene noted it was hard to breathe. "Shit, shit," shouted's Trymaine Lee, as his network attempted to reach him amid an onslaught late in the evening. Stun grenades were fired, and police wearing camouflage fatigues and riot gear formed lines in the streets.

Edward Snowden: Surveillance, Spying Practices Have Brought U.S. to ‘Brink of the Abyss’

Edward Snowden has just been granted three more years of asylum in Russia, and the former NSA contractor-turned-whistle-blower is understandably choosy about whom he meets with in person. In June, he gave top NSA expert James Bamford a good deal of his time for an in-depth Wired story, and Bamford didn’t waste it.

The Murder of Black Youth Is a Reproductive Justice Issue

If you have followed the aftermath of the August 9 killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown, then you have most likely seen the image of his stepfather holding a makeshift cardboard sign that reads, “Ferguson police just executed my unarmed son!!!” You have likely seen the photo of Brown’s mother staring into the camera, her husband encircling her neck with his arm, her eyes swollen to slits after what must have been hours of crying and asking questions that went unanswered.

Lawsuit Over U.S. FATCA Law Alleges 1 Million Canadians Had Charter Rights Violated

TORONTO - Canada has violated the charter rights of nearly a million Canadians by agreeing to share their financial details with authorities in the United States, two Ontario women allege in a new lawsuit.

Gwen Deegan of Toronto and Ginny Hillis of Windsor, Ont., have launched a claim against the Attorney General of Canada.

In it, they accuse Ottawa of breaching the Constitution by complying with a sweeping new American tax fraud law, known as the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act.

A War on Gaza’s Future? Israeli Assault Leaves 500 Kids Dead, 3,000 Injured, 373,000 Traumatized

As the Israeli offensive in Gaza resumes, we look at the impact the military campaign has had on the children of Gaza. More than 467 Palestinian children have died since July. That is more than the combined number of child fatalities in the two previous conflicts in Gaza. According to the World Health Organization, more than 3,000 children have been injured, of which an estimated 1,000 will suffer from a lifelong disability. The United Nations estimates at least 373,000 children require direct and specialized psychosocial support. And, based on the total number of adults killed, there may be up to 1,500 children orphaned. Gazan children’s right to an education has also been severely compromised with at least 25 schools reportedly damaged so severely that they can no longer be used. We speak to Pernille Ironside, chief of UNICEF’s Gaza field office.

"There isn’t a single family in Gaza who hasn’t experienced personally death, injury, the loss of their home, extensive damage, displacement," Ironside says. "The psychological toll that has on a people, it just cannot be overestimated, and especially on children."

Author: --

Hillary Clinton's Foreign Policy Deception

It's said that the best defense is a good offense. This strategy probably lies behind Hillary Clinton's recent takedown of President Barack Obama's foreign policy. After all, Clinton was a lead architect of that policy as Secretary of State, and the policies that she espoused until recently now lie in shambles.

The most aggressive of her claims, that Obama's unwillingness to give support to the Syrian rebels has led to the rise of ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) -- is not true. The US and allies have supported the rebels, though the exact numbers and means are unknown as the operations have been mostly covert. The policy was mistaken from the start: it has contributed to more than 160,000 dead in Syria, and in fact helped to open the way for ISIS to threaten both Syria and Iraq. This failure is both Clinton's and Obama's, and to this day is obscured in a cloud of lies and deceit.

Ferguson Is 60 Percent Black. Virtually All Its Cops Are White.

Black residents of Ferguson, Missouri, the working-class city in northern St. Louis county where an unarmed black teenager was shot dead by police officers on Saturday, say the town has been a "powder keg" of racial imbalance for decades. "They treat us like second class all the way down the line," one black resident toldthe LA Times. A black city alderman said the ensuing protests are "a boiling over of tensions that had been going on for a long while."

Ten reasons to smash capitalism

10. Capitalist corporations suffer from a personality disorder characterized by enduring antisocial behavior, diminished empathy and remorse, and are rewarded by shareholders for acting that way. If corporations could be sent to a criminal psychologist's office they'd be diagnosed as psychopaths and locked away forever.
9. Capitalism encourages greed. But greed is only good for capitalists. For normal people it is anti-social and soul-destroying, not to mention very bad for our communities, which rely on altruism, compassion and a generalized concern for others.

Mount Polley: Mining is disaster

The Mount Polley mining disaster in B.C. has barely been sustained in national news, let alone break in international news. This is despite the fact that mining experts are cautioning that the incident is the largest mining disaster in Canadian, possibly evenglobal, history. Where it has made news, the incident is exceptionalized as a single accident, a failure, or the incompetence of one company. The notorious Canadian mining industry, actively supported by provincial and federal governments, has largely escaped public and media scrutiny.

How taxes have changed over the last half century

The Fraser Institute's annual Consumer Tax Index report generated some media buzz with its outlandish claims about just how much taxes have risen since 1961. Before you get worked up about this, consider that 1961 was over half a century ago, before the time of universal health care that we all benefit from, before the Canada Pension Plan and the Guaranteed Income Supplement that hugely reduced poverty for seniors, before the Canada Child Tax Benefit which is helping lower child poverty (though not enough!).
There are big problems with the Fraser Institute report's methodology which lead them to grossly overestimate the tax bill of the average Canadian family.

Ferguson Police Department Will Not Release Name Of Officer Involved In Michael Brown Shooting

The Ferguson police department will not release the name of the officer involved in the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown, an incident that has grabbed the nation's attention and sparked outrage in the local community.

Police said Brown, who was unarmed, was shot multiple times Saturday after being confronted by a white officer in Ferguson, a town that is nearly 70 percent black. The FBI opened an investigation into Brown's death on Monday. Authorities have offered vague details about the confrontation but said the officer involved has been placed on administrative leave.

Local residents have taken to the Ferguson streets in demonstrations that have been both violent and peaceful. Demonstrators continued to clash with the local authorities well into Monday evening.

Original Article
Author: The Huffington Post | By Danielle Cadet

What the Site C Dam is really for: an explosion of new fracking wells

The idea that the proposed Site C Dam on the Peace River is going to be used for supplying electrical energy to all of British Columbia is utterly naïve.

I say this because the site of this proposed project is directly over the Montney Formation shale gas deposit, with reserves of 449 trillion cubic feet of marketable natural gas, 14,521 million barrels of marketable natural gas liquids (NGLs) and 1,125 million barrels of oil.

First Nation leaders protest Imperial Metals and company's ties with government

“Hey, ho! Imperial Metals has got to go!” demonstrators chanted angrily as they marched downtown toward the company's main office.

At around 2 p.m. on Monday August 11, the Secwepemc Women’s Warrior Society led a protest against Imperial Metals' mining activities in the Cariboo region. The recent tailing ponds breach in the company’s Mount Polley mine led to 10.5 million cubic metres of mine wastewater and 4.5 million cubic metres of toxic sediment being poured into the waterways near Williams Lake.

Israel’s new lawyer: Hillary Clinton

Who’s the Israeli government’s best spokesperson? Ron Dermer? Michael Oren? Bibi himself? Nope. It’s Hillary Clinton. In her interview on Sunday with Jeffrey Goldberg, Clinton offered the most articulate, sophisticated, passionate defense of Netanyahu’s conduct I’ve heard from a government official on either side of the Atlantic. Unfortunately, important chunks of it aren’t true.

Let’s take her claims in turn.

In his first term, Netanyahu moved towards a Palestinian state

This Is The Terrifying Result Of The Militarization Of Police

While serving as a U.S. Marine on patrol in Afghanistan, we wore desert camouflage to blend in with our surroundings, carried rifles to shoot back when under enemy attack, and drove around in armored vehicles to ward off roadside bombs.

We looked intimidating, but all of our vehicles and equipment had a clear purpose for combat against enemy forces. So why is this same gear being used on our city streets?

Mine Disaster: Gov't Shirked Legal Duty to Warn Public, Says Advocate

An advocate for government openness says the B.C. government failed to perform its statutory duty to warn citizens about the state of the Mount Polley mining waste dam before the Aug. 4 disaster.

The B.C. Freedom of Information and Privacy Association formally complained Aug. 8 to Information and Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham based on the section of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act that requires public bodies proactively disclose information regarding a risk of harm to the environment or public health.

The New Cold War and the Necessity of Patriotic Heresy

I prepared the text below for remarks to the annual US-Russia Forum in Washington, DC, on June 16. Though held in the Hart Senate Office Building, and well attended, the event was privately organized, without any official auspices. In order to fit the time allocated to speakers, I had to abridge my text. I have restored the deletions here and spelled out a number of my impromptu comments. In addition, I refer to a few subsequent developments to illustrate some of my themes. I have not, however, significantly revised words written to be spoken into the prose I prefer for published articles. —SFC

Half Of Federal Student Loan Borrowers Not Paying On Time

Less than half of borrowers with the most common type of federal student loan are repaying their debt on time, new data released by the U.S. Department of Education show.

About 51 percent of Americans with student loans made directly by the Education Department, known as Direct Loans, have either fallen behind or are not making expected payments, according to data on the $686 billion portfolio. Borrowers who aren't making expected payments for reasons that include temporary financial hardship or a return to school are included in the tally. Not included are borrowers not expected to pay back their loans because they've either never left school, or are less than six months out of school. The figures are based on dollar amounts, rather than the number of borrowers.

Russia Holds Military Exercises On Islands Partly Claimed By Japan

MOSCOW, Aug 12 (Reuters) - Russia began military exercises in a Pacific island chain parts of which are also claimed by Japan, a Russian Defense Ministry spokesman said on Tuesday, a potential blow to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's efforts to keep the door open to dialog with Moscow despite strains over the Ukraine crisis.

"Exercises began involving military units in the region, which are deploying to the Kurile Islands," Colonel Alexander Gordeyev, a spokesman for Russia's Eastern Military District, told the Russian news agency Interfax.

Gag order to be imposed on new RCMP transparency office

OTTAWA — The federal government is developing a commission to help restore public confidence in the RCMP – but it will be shrouded in secrecy.

Planning documents for Public Safety indicate anyone working for the RCMP’s new Civilian Review and Complaints Commission will be required to take an “oath of secrecy.”

“This oath ensures that these persons pledge not to disclose any information that they come across in the course of their duties to anyone not legally entitled to that information,” the document reads.

Charities push back against Harper, refuse to be victims

The Harper government is targeting charities working on energy and pipeline issues, development and human rights and those charities with significant funding by labour unions.
A lot of coverage about this bullying and many of the stories -- which picked up on the findings of my recentMaster's thesis -- have portrayed these charities as the victims of the government's rhetoric, which conflates charities with criminal and terrorist organizations, and of the government's corrupt use of Canada Revenue Agency to fight its policy battles through politicized audits.